WELCOME SPEECH DELIVERED BY HON. JUSTICE M. M. A. AKANBI CFR, PCA, (Rtd), CHAIRMAN AND FOUNDER, MUSTAPHA AKANBI FOUNDATION
ON THE OCCASION OF THE COMMISSIONING OF MAF BUILDING OMPLEX AND SECOND ANNIVERSARY PUBLIC LECTURE HELD ON THE 5TH NOV,2009.
I welcome each and every one of you, to this auspicious occasion. I thank you immensely from the bottom of my heart for sparing the time to be here. I appreciate your love and affection. I salute you all. May the Almighty Allah, the Lord of all the worlds, the King of kings, the Bestower of all favours and Preferments reward you most abundantly and continue to take care of you all.
Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, My Lords distinguished ladies and gentlemen, today is a great day for all of us. On 12th September, 2006 when the Mustapha Akanbi Foundation was inaugurated at the Kwara Hotel here in Ilorin, we launched a seven point agenda which would be the main focal points and objectives of our determined effort to be a part of the struggle to show case Nigeria to the world and make her the pride of the black race.
Since the inauguration, we have made tremendous strides. We have vigorously and with bull dog tenacity of purpose pursued the objectives of human empowerment, education, anti-graft, ethics, judicial responsibility, good governance and democracy.
In the area of human empowerment, we have given jobs to a few, we have assisted some in getting employment, by making appropriate recommendations to those who can help. We have helped not less than twenty-two (22) persons in acquiring skills in tying and dying business. In the area of education, we ran courses in English Language for JSS 3 students from selected secondary schools in Ilorin. And in conjunction with the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH), the Foundation organized lectures on the problems, causes and remedies of the killer disease “Diabetes”. Lectures were also given on the evils of corruption and the adverse effects on the economic development of the nation.
In the area of good governance and democracy, we got Professors, Scholars, Judges, a Journalist, Law enforcement agencies, and some Legislators to give thought provoking lectures on Participatory Democracy and Awakening hope in the Nigeria project. In February 2008, we carried our activities to Abuja where the respected Professor Ibrahim A. Gambari CFR, the Under-Secretary General, UN delivered the first anniversary public lecture on the all important topic; the Challenges of Nationhood: the Nigeria case”. I am glad to say that the outing in Abuja was most successful and exhilarating. Just like today, the attendance was most encouraging and inspiring.
I have no doubt that today we shall be treated to an equally stimulating and illuminating lecture by the renowned Professor Akinjide Osuntokun who incidentally has his root in Kwara State--the state of harmony.
Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, My Lords distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to say that the promise we made in Abuja to complete the building of the MAF complex comprising a great hall named the Africa Peoples Hall, a library and offices has been fulfilled. I thank Almighty Allah (SWT) for making this possible. My gratitude goes to our various donors especially the Executive Governor of Kwara State. Without their support and cooperation, we probably would not have achieved this much. I do hope we can still continue to count on their support for our remaining projects and programmes. I also hope that other well-meaning Nigerians will willingly partner with us to execute some of our programmes.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, many may wonder why this hall has been named Africa Peoples Hall. May I say that those who are familiar with my background know that I was raised and nurtured at a time when the nationalist struggle in Africa was at its peak and African countries were struggling to shed off the toga of colonialism and neo-colonialism to dawn on the gown of free, independent and sovereign nation. I witnessed the struggle for independence in Ghana and here in Nigeria. I knew the pains and agony, our leaders and nationalists went through. I knew the sacrifices they made to ensure that you and I enjoy whatever we are enjoying today. I remember some of them had to go to prison, suffered a lot of deprivations and humiliation, all in the bid to free us from the shackles of imperialism. These heroes of our struggle for liberty, freedom and justice must not be forgotten. Their memory must be kept alive. Their hopes must not be shattered. Their vision of building a strong, ebullient and united continent, bound together by the common desire to lift the mass of our people from the morass of poverty, ignorance, rampaging corruption and squalor to the high pedestal of great achievements, economic emancipation, democracy, transparency, probity and accountability must not be allowed to dwindle.
The AFRICA PEOPLES HALL which will soon be unveiled to the glory of Almighty Allah (SWT) by our Chief Host, the Governor of Kwara State, His Excellency, Dr. Bukola Saraki is dedicated to the sweet memories of our illustrious leaders who sacrificed so much to free us from bondage and slavery. These leaders include the great motivational speaker, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe, the Gamji of Arewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sadauna of Sokoto, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the golden voice of the North, Malam Aminu Kano, the patron saint of the Talakawas, Chief Mama Olufunmilayo Ransome Kuti, Chief Mrs Magret Ekpo, Hajia Gambo Sawaba, the redoubtable Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the nationalist Mazi Mbonu Ojike, the stormy petrel Anthony Enahoro, the greatest Pan Africanist, and master tactician Dr. Kwame Nkurumah, the Osagyefo, the dogged freedom fighter Jomo Kenyatta, the Trade Unionist and Nationalist Tom Mboya, the defiant revolutionist Ahmed Sekou Toure, the Pan African hero Patrice Lumumba, the astitute and selfless Julius Nyerere, the living legend of all times, Nelson Mandela, the heroic patriots of North Africa Gamal Nassar, Habib Bougiba, Ahmed Benbella, Mohammad Gadaffi and all others, living or dead, who suffered in the struggle to make us free.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, these are but some of the great men in history who did the continent proud. Their photographs in this hall of fame will serve as a constant reminder of their services and sacrifices to our people. For us in MAF, they remain our symbol of hope, the motivating force and inspirers of our commitment to make Nigeria nay Africa a force to be reckoned with, in world politics.
The Hall itself shall serve as the pulsating centre of intellectual activities and development, a centre of excellence where scholars, men of intellect and learning, great minds and nationalists within and outside the country would be invited to brainstorm, and share common thoughts, ideas and ideals on how to move the continent to the higher plane of glory and enable us take our rightful place in the comity of nations.
Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highnesses, My Lords, may I also say that the offices of the Argonauts and the Mufatu Akanbi Library which are also ready for inspection by His Excellency, the Executive governor of Kwara State shall also be open to all those who thirst for knowledge and are willing to widen their horizon of thought and action. This rich reading and reference library will help to complement the efforts of the State government, to inculcate the reading culture or habit among the citizenry especially the present day youths who may wish to draw inspiration from the wisdom of the elderly and great men of history whose biographies and autobiographies adorn our shelves
And for those who want to engage in social activities our doors are open.
Finally, Your Excellencies, Your Royal Highness, My Lords, great Nigerians, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I once again thank you all for being here. I welcome you once more to this special occasion. I have no doubt that you will enjoy the lecture and your stay in Ilorin.
Thanks for listening and God bless.